Hidden, out of the way and wonderfully wild, the Schoodic Peninsula of Maine is the place to go for kayaking and hiking.
Something out of the ordinary is what you want when you go on a getaway vacation and the beauty and unhurried pace on Schoodic insures that your time there will send you home in a fully relaxed mode.
Kayaking Frenchman Bay, Schoodic
For those who have enjoyed sea kayaking in the past and for others who have not yet had the experience, Frenchman Bay, the large body of water that separates Schoodic from Mount Desert Island, is a delight to paddle. Schoodic is the location of “the other part” of Acadia National Park, the immensely popular national Park on Mount Desert Island. Unlike Mount Desert Island, Schoodic is sparsely settled, mostly wooded, and provides panoramic views of the bay and Mount Desert from the top of Schoodic Head, a 440’ high promontory at the end of the peninsula.
For kayakers, the waters of Frenchman Bay provide a highway for exploring of miles of coastline, both of the peninsula and of the many islands in the bay. This is a place with enormous tides, however,, and attention to tide tables and water conditions is critical. Since these waters can be difficult, we strongly urge kayakers to boat here with the services of a professional guide.
Choose to go with an Outfitter guide
While there are kayak outfitters on Mount Deser, we chose to work with one closer to the waters that we wanted to paddle. Seascape Kayak and Bike. It is located at 39 Cottage Street, right in the village of Winter Harbor, minutes from the put-in. They also rent bicycles, a great way to get around this bucolic peninsula.
With our Seascape kayak guide we put in from a rocky beach on Grindstone Neck with a great view of Ironbound Island. Once out on the water we got a true sense of how vast this bay is. It was a great paddle, with seabirds flying overhead and an ever-changing panorama of ocean and islands. Paddling, resting and chatting we made our way to a long narrow island of stone and rock for a lunch break of sandwiches, drinks, fruit and exploration. Sitting in the middle of the bay, this low island seems to catch things thrown at it by angry seas. Most notable were several lobster traps trashed by the waves and a few water bleached tree trunks tossed ashore by fierce seas.
There were no fierce waves that day, however, and the paddling was over small wavelets and swells that provided fun and variety. We made for Ironbound Island to paddle along its rocky cliffs, a view of the coast of Maine that differs from that seen by land-bound visitors. After four hours on the water we were ready to call it a day, landing at the beach that we had started from and ready for a break and looking forward to dinner.
Staying and dining, plan and reserve ahead
Schoodic is a sparsely settled place and it is important to arrange accommodations well before setting out. We stayed at a great small inn in Prospect Harbor, Elsa’s Inn on the Harbor . Cozy and comfortable, it has beautifully decorated rooms, an attractive breakfast room and a breezy outdoor place to read a good book. You will know you are in Prospect harbor by the huge cut-out sign of a lobsterman holding a lobster trap. The large building there is a lobster processing plant that formerly was a sardine processing plant until it close in 2010, the last sardine processing plant in the United States. For campers, there is a new national park campground, Schoodic Woods camping, get reservations ahead.
Dining is sparse in Schoodic, so scout out you places and plan to eat early. In Winter Harbor Fisherman’s Galley is popular and, closer to Prospect Harbor, another popular venue is The Pickled Wrinkle.
And enjoy the local color
Be sure to take time to explore the National park and to poke around in the peninsula’s villages. Winter Harbor is delightful and Corea and its fishing boat and wharf filled harbor is a classic Coastal Maine setting.